Part 1: 14 reasons 2021 didn’t totally suck. PS: it’s mostly because of Indigenous youth and their acts of resistance

On the surface, 2021 was a year we might want to forget. But: as we start to peel back layers of the long-term toll the last year has taken on our collective well-being, let’s also remember to celebrate and lift each other up. Here’s a list of incredible Indigenous artists, activists and creators who use their voices, stories and skills to bring joy and build community. 

Part 1: Acts of Resistance: Activism & Decolonizing 

  1. Host Consulting (Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh)

Led by Faith Sparrow-Crawford, Salia Joseph, and Jade George, three Indigenous women from the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations, Host Consulting is carving out space for host Nations to be represented, and celebrated through public art consultation, decolonial dialogues and discussions, project management and liaising. With a focus on relationship-building with host Nations rooted in respect and protocol, Host Consulting “aim[s] to create a place that reflects who [they] are as Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples.” 

  1. Quinn Meawasige (Anishinaabe) and Taryn Bobiwash (Serpent River First Nation Anishinaabe) – NIMKII AAZHIBIKONG

Indigenous language reclamation is a direct act of resistance to colonialism. Reclaiming languages that were almost lost to colonization and government mandated erasure of First Nations culture has been a true intergenerational effort carried by Indigenous folks. The Nimkii Aazhibikong Eshkiniijig (Youth) Group, started by Quinn Meawasige and Taryn Bobiwash, is a youth-led and run initiative that weaves language and land-based teachings together.

  1. Ta7talíya Paisley Eva Nahanee (Squamish)

Paisley Nahanee is decolonizing Vancouver through her work as a DJ, facilitator, artist/designer, and by amplifying the voices of the indigiqueer community. Her ideas are fresh and relevant to urban Indigenous identity and to those who live in Indigenous communities. Her growing role at Nahanee Creative makes her a force in the decolonial dialogues that are changing our collective ways of doing and being. 

  1. Kolin Sutherland-Wilson (Gitxsan – Fireweed Clan, Anspayaxw)

After dropping out of University, this young activist has committed his time and efforts to reporting truths from the land and frontlines of the Wet’suwet’en territories. Kolin has been producing critical videos that show the truth of the ongoing colonialism on his homelands. You can read more and support him in this effort on his Patreon

  1. Kayah George – (Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Tulalip Tribes)

Weaving together the teachings of Tulalip and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Kayah has become a prominent environmental and cultural leader. From their work with Indigenous Climate Action, to her feature in Loose Lips Magazine’s Matriarchy Issue and her appearance in the new documentary film Coextinction (not to mention their ongoing commitment to frontline land and water defense), it is clear that we have many reasons to be uplifting Kayah in 2021. 

  1. Misko Biinishii Kwe Winona Ominika – (Anishinaabe – Ojibwe)

CEO and founder of RedBird Adventures and Redbird Visuals, Winona Ominika uses her experience as a visual storyteller and her interest in outdoor exploration to create more opportunities for Inidgenous youth, LGBTQ folks and newcomers to Canada to access nature, recreation and traditional culture. Reconnecting to land and water is something we all could use; unfortunately, it’s also something  that a lot of folks experience barriers to. Winona is undoing colonialism through teaching traditional Indigenous knowledge and connecting to nature. 

  1. Nangghaahlaangstangs (Haida, Black, Tlingit)

Father, facilitator, mentor, and previously a pro basketball player, Nangghaahlaangstangs wears many hats. If you’ve been following his story on social media over the last year, you’ll know he has really shifted focus to supporting Indigenous youth — in particular boys and celebrating their boyhood. Undoing toxic masculinity through mentorship, love and storytelling, Nangghaahlaangstangs is stepping up as a role model for Indigenous and Black youth (and anyone else who may need a male role model). 

Check out part-two to read more on Indigenous youth using art and representation as an act of resistance.

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